Mrs X and Mr Y are both well educated and are well placed in their careers. They had been in love for over two years and after negotiating talks with their respective families, arranged for their marriage. After about three months of marriage, they landed up in a psychiatric clinic for marital consultation. The reason for consultation was, according to the wife, “He never understands me. I feel so sad. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I got married!” The husband’s r.f.c. was, “She never obeys me doctor. She thinks too much of herself. She has an attitude problem. She is not at all like the ideal Tamil wife. Unless she mends her ways, I think this marriage is going to end up in divorce…”
It is not like Mrs X and Mr Y are a rare couple. Nowadays, so many young couples come for consultations, from so many different backgrounds - all for the same reason. Wives are sad and feel unappreciated by the husbands and the husbands are irritated and grumpy as they feel slighted by their wife’s independent thinking. The reason: a gross mismatch in their expectations. Most wives expect a loving, understanding, modern man for a husband. A man who will appreciate her mind as much as he appreciates her body; a man who will respect her as a person and treat her with dignity. Reasonable as this sounds, these expectations directly clash with those of the husbands’.
Not all, but most men still expect a subservient, docile and timid wife who will obey her husband no matter what. A wife who will meekly follow her husband’s instructions without offering any suggestions of her own. In case the wife uses her mind a wee bit and gives an idea or offers a suggestion, some men feel affronted. And immediately try to cut the wife back to size by saying, “unakku romba thimir, that is why you are talking like this.” This immediately brings a gush of words and a rush of tears from the wife and there starts many a matrimonial malady!
For example, Mrs X had to book a train ticket to visit her parent’s place. She is twenty-eight years old. She has been reserving tickets on her own for years now and so without much ado, she logged on to the website and make an e-booking. When the tickets arrived by courier, the husband got furious, “How dare you book the ticket without my knowledge! Unakku rumba thimiraayiduchchi!” he started scolding her for that. The wife was stumped. What was so wrong about booking one’s own tickets?
Well, I asked Mr Y, what was so wrong about it? “There is nothing wrong doctor. But she should have first discussed that with me! Am I not the man of the house? If she goes on like this, taking decisions without first getting my permission, then what respect do I have?”
“Did she not tell you about her plans before hand?”
“She did, actually we decided on this trip a week ago. But I was under the impression that I’ll make the reservations. That is how it happens in my house. But this girl, she directly went ahead and got the tickets on her own! How dare she do that!”
“Does reserving one’s own ticket mean that the wife is disrespecting her husband?”
“Not in that sense, but yes, I feel disrespected. If she can do all the man’s work all on her own, then why does she need a husband. To me it seems like she is trying to act too smart and superior. My mother would never have done such a thing. It was always me or my father who would reserve tickets for her. I have never heard of any Tamil girl behaving like this, as if she knows everything.”
This idea of the Ideal Tamil Girl is the root cause for so many marital problems. And the sad part is, most men have no idea about the real Tamil Girl, they have never read the right books or spoken to the right people on this subject. All their knowledge comes from the media portrayals of women. And since most media representations show only a mythical version of the Tamil woman, the impossibly timid, shy, docile and imbecile girl, with no capacity to take her own decision, the average male believes that such women do exist in reality. From MGR who sang, “Even if the girl has studied English, this is how she must be in Tamil Nadu….” to later stars like Rajnikanth and Vijay, the matinee idols always keep spreading false ideas about the Tamil women. Which is not surprising, for all these men are not experts on Tamil Anthropology, how could they know about the Real Tamil Woman?
One only has to go through Tamil literature through the ages to have a glimpse of the Original Tamil Woman. From the Sangam literature of the second century AD to the Bakti literature of the eighth century to the modern literature of the last century, Tamil women have always been brave, intelligent and witty. Avvaiyar, the poetess not only sang beautiful poetry, but also was a peace maker who negotiated truce between battling kings of early Tamilnadu. Mangaiyarkkarasi, the elder sister of saint Appar was so well versed in the religious scriptures that she taught her brother the greatness of Saivism. Andal the young Vishnu devotee who sang the Thiruppaavai was an excellent poet. Kundavai Devi, the elder sister of Raja Raja Cholan was the woman behind his every success. Rani Velu Nachiyar, the Queen of Sivaganga went to war with the British. And Rani Mangamma ruled Madurai on her own. All these were the Real Tamil women, gutsy, brave and all with a mind of their own.
If these were the extraordinary women of Tamil Nadu, the ordinary women were no less smart. In every Tamil household, although to an outsider it seems that the man of the house is making the decisions and heading the family, we all know that it is the woman whose decisions finally win handsdown. Be it the illiterate village woman who saves up money without her alcoholic husband’s knowledge just to make sure that her children get to eat good food, or the city dweller who goes to a boring job just to make ends meet for her family, women have always been enterprising, intelligent and hard working.
And it is not by accident that women are so enterprising. The females have by default been designed to be better survivors. Because it is the female that brings forth life, unless she survives, life cannot exist. And so among all species of life on earth today, it is the female of the species that is better suited for survival than the male. For only if a woman knows to survive, any children born to her will survive.
That is the reason why women’s education has always been a priority in every governments. For only if a woman is educated and has up to date knowledge about her world, her children will have the benefit of better survival. It is a fact that only those countries that have a female high literacy rate have a good economy, the stock exchange rates in these countries are high. Whereas those countries with poor women’s literacy do not even feature on the stock market. The reason is obvious. Intelligent mothers rear intelligent children, intelligent children have new ideas that sell well, and so the stock markets surge!
Such being the case, it is quite sad that young men today, believe in the myth of the Dumb Tamil Girl and force their wives to play that impossible role. They want to control their wife’s every move and push them into dependant, subservient roles. Of course, it is not that these men are mean and hence they want boss over their wives. It is just that, the popular media depicts women as silly sizzies and just like many stereotypes that we learn from the media, men mistakenly believe that such dumb women make better wives.
This is completely untrue. Let me give you a real life example. Mrs Q was the just the stuff that Tamil songs sing about, extremely beautiful with oodles of accham, matam, naanam and payirpppu. Her husband told me outright, “I am sick and tired of her doctor, I do not want to live with her anymore!”
“Why do you say that?”
“She is so dumb doctor, that I have no peace of mind. She is always pestering me for everything. She cannot go to the shop and get the groceries on her own. I need to do that for her. She cannot hail an auto and take the children for a checkup. I have to do that. I am only one person. I have to go to work, take care of paying all bills, I must find time to take care of children, and then I also have to find time to run errands for her. Why can’t she use her brain and do her work on her own? This morning the child fell sick and has been wheezing for hours now. I had got her a cell phone and even taught her to use it. Neither did she take the child to the doctor on her own, nor did she call me! What can I do with a dumb idiot like this? What if I had lost my child! Please you make her alright doctor, otherwise my children are going to suffer because of her stupidity…”
This is the reality of the Dumb Tamil Girl. She may be a big massage to your ego. Her innocence and dependence can make a man feel smarter, bigger, braver and better. But the price one has to pay for this ego boost is lifelong loss of peace. And a breed of inadequately mothered dull children.
In the past, women were never educated. Even if they did go to school, the day they became a “big girl” they’d drop out. Soon after that they’d get married. They had no employment. They were completely dependent on their husbands for every one of their meals. That dependent role made them treat their husbands like their masters, not out of love, but of fear! The husbands might have enjoyed all the pampering they got from their subservient wives. But the quality of life of the last century Indians was very low. Children died by the millions just because of their mother’s ignorance. Even those children that survived led very low quality lives. India remained a poor country and its people were not very smart. They were invaded by foreigners one after the other. It was only after women’s education became a priority that the quality of life of Indians has improved. Today, what with governmental policies, job opportunities and improved economy, women are making big strides ahead in life. Unlike the women in the past, today’s women are more educated, can put their trained minds to good use, are quite independent and very efficient. The country has spent years of planning and implementation to put Indian women where they stand today.
All these efforts were just so that these women make smarter mothers and their children can build a stronger nation. This is the big picture. Once we understand that, we can escape petty egoistic thoughts about keeping the women under control and actually congratulate the wives who reserve their own tickets without nagging their husbands. We can appreciate the women for using their brains and giving their husbands good ideas. We can feel proud that within sixty years of independence we have uplifted our women from illiterate, helpless, easily exploited lots into self-thinking, smart beings who can herald a new era of Indian superpowerdom.
An intelligent man will always move with the times. Otherwise, like the dinosaurs that stopped evolving and just went extinct, men will get stuck back in time and get lost in their search for the mythical Dumb Tamil Girl who never exists in the real world.
Most men upgrade themselves quickly and learn to look at women as equals. They evolve into better beings and begin to appreciate their wives for their minds and feel proud of their achievements. These men who evolve and adapt to the changing times are the ones that are fit for survival.
But then, there are also some other men who still cling on to the past and keep saying, “My mother never did that, my mother never used that…I want my wife to be just like that ” The sad truth is, such men are just proving that they are unfit for survival….for survival is all about adapting to the changes that happen around us. All over the world, women are being uplifted, improved and updated. A fit man will adapt himself to suit these evolved women, and the human race will move ahead in evolutionary times. Those men who refuse to adapt and will not learn, will simply be left behind as losers.
Marriage is an ultimate test for survival. Those who are willing to adapt, learn new ways of behavior and move with the times survive and survive well. What about you?